Union Workers in Mattoon Show Support

Published 01/21 2012 06:37PM

Updated 01/22 2012 02:14PM

MATTOON -- A union battle across the country is making it's way to central Illinois. Workers at Consolidated Communications in Mattoon hit the streets to support their co-workers on the east coast.

The company's branch in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania is going through negotiations with the union in town. And union members in Illinois say if they don't fight what's going on there, it's going to happen here as well.

That's why members from the electricians' union, IBEW Local 702 pounded the pavement. They stood outside the company's 17th Street headquarters in Mattoon waving signs and banners. Several union members from Pittsburg also made the drive to make their voices heard.

Greg Millsap is the chair of IBEW Local 702. Millsap says the company wants to cut pensions and raise healthcare costs with the Pennsylvania workers.

"Our contract will be up in November," says Millsap. "We have similar benefits. If they take theirs, they'll probably take ours."

But Director of Corporate Communications Laura ZuHone says those changes are necessary.

ZuHone sent out this statement Saturday in response to the protest outside the Mattoon company headquarters.

    "While it is compelling to provide clarity to some of the statements that have been made by union leadership, Consolidated Communications feel it isbest not to discuss publicly the specific issues being negotiated. But we will comment in general on the environment and the intent ofbargaining in Pennsylvania.  We are in a competitive industry in a challenging economy.  As our business changes, we have to change also and this includes the services we offer, the work our employees do, where they do it, and the reduction of our costs.  The Company is making every effort to make benefits, compensation and work rules equitable among all states. Consolidated Communications has put a fair package on the table in Pennsylvania and looks forward to negotiating these important issues as they are integral to the future of our business."


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